HC Deb 16 December 1925 vol 189 cc1382-3

asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether the British delegate to the Peking Tariff Conference was instructed to state that the British Government intend to respect the sovereign right of China to tariff autonomy: whether any additional instructions have been given to the British delegation since his letter of instructions of 18th September last; and whether he will publish those instructions?

The UNDER-SECRETARY of STATE for FOREIGN AFFAIRS (Mr. Godfrey Locker-Lampson)

On the 3rd November the British delegation, with the approval of His Majesty's Government, formally declared their willingness to submit to the ratification of their Government such measures as might be desired and agreed upon at the Conference with a view to ensuring within a reasonable period the full realisation of China's claim to complete liberty of action in matters relating to her tariff, and on the 19th November the Conference adopted a resolution in the following terms: The delegates of Powers assembled at this conference resolve to adopt the following article relating to tariff autonomy with a view to incorporating it, together with other matters to be hereafter agreed upon, in a treaty which is to be signed at this conference: 'The contracting Powers other than China hereby recognise China's right to enjoy tariff autonomy; agree to remove tariff restrictions which are contained in existing treaties between themselves respectively and China; and consent to the going into effect of Chinese national tariff law on 1st January, 1929. 'The Government of the Republic of China declares that li-kin duties shall be abolished simultaneously with the enforcement of Chinese national tariff law; and further declares that the abolition of li-kin duties shall be effectively carried out by 1st day of first month of 18th year of Republic of China (1st January, 1929).' No further general instructions have been issued to the British delegation since their departure on the 19th September, but His Majesty's Government have been in frequent telegraphic communication with them and have from time to time sent instructions on specific points as occasion has demanded. I do not think that any useful purpose would be served by publishing such instructions.


asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whether he has any information as to the extent to which the recent military developments in China have thrown difficulties in the way of the successful conclusion of the Customs Tariff Conference at Peking?


The new crisis in China is, I understand, somewhat impeding the progress of the Conference, but negotiations are still proceeding. How the latest developments will affect the final issue of the conference I am, of course, quite unable to foresee.

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